Aaaaaahhh, to feel on top of one's world.
Do you know elation? I know elation. I know how wonderful it feels, I've felt it often. I felt it recently, I've felt it the last few days.
It's the best I've felt in probably six months or so. My mind is buzzing with ideas. I feel full of optimism and hope. I feel sure I can conquer anything life throws at me.
I feel attractive and sure I'd make a good partner for any woman. I feel I could satisfy any woman.
I want to sing out loud! I want to sing from the rooftops. I'd love for people to hear my voice, to hear me sing to them my passion for life and love.
I feel in love with my job. It's so much of what I want. I feel good there, wanted there.
I had such a good day yesterday. All this positive and creative energy - and outlets in which to channel them! I felt in charge and in control. And just so damn happy.
After feeling so unwell for so long, it's all so bloody wonderful!
It feels so freakin' good! I want it to last, I want this to be me! And of course it's me!
I can't believe how great I feel - elated, happy, on top of the world, creative, attractive, feeling good about myself, all the things you'd want to feel, how you dream of feeling. Yet that's exactly what I have to do - not believe it.
I can't believe it, I have to force myself not to believe it - because it's all an illusion. It's a visit from Manic Bear.
For most people such feelings of elation would not be cause for concern. They could ride it and enjoy it for however long it lasted. It's not a dangerous mood for them.
For those living with Bipolar Disorder, however, such elevated moods are signs to watch out for, they are signs of manic episodes. What I described along with needing and getting less sleep, heightened libido are sure signs that one is entering a potentially dangerous manic period.
How can feeling so good be "dangerous"? Again, if one is not affected by bipolar, it's not a big deal. But for those who are affected, a manic episode's end can have catastrophic consequences, often being plunged into months of a catatonic state of depression. Even the elevated state itself can lead to dangerous or harmful behaviour; spending sprees - usually with money the person doesn't have - sexual escapades, excessive drinking or indulging in drugs, running themselves low on sleep which could lead to psychotic behaviour. All of which will lead to a big crash at some point.
And the crash will feel awful. "How can I feel so bad after feeling so good", the person will think. And they will beat themselves up over all the things they did during the "high" state. They will go from feeling as good as anyone in the world, from feeling so positive and creative and loving to the exact polar opposite, to feeling so low and apathetic, being barely able to get out of bed, to being negative and pessimistic to utter self loathing - self loathing to the point of feeling suicidal. And that's what's so hard to remember when in an elevated state - that you're one misstep away from plunging so low and so fast and feeling so bad that suicide feels like the only way to stop the pain. I cannot tell you how powerful that lure is, that lure to stop the pain.
So I have to not believe these elevated feelings I've been having. I have to tell myself they're an illusion, that they're not real. I have to tell myself they're dangerous. Just as I have to, when in a depressive state, tell myself that all these bad thoughts I'm having are not real, when in an elated state, I have to tell myself those thoughts are not real nor sustainable. I have to try work myself towards some middle ground, something that's not at one pole or the other.
Now this doesn't mean that none of what I felt and thought was true. That would be unfair to myself. But I have to put it all aside until the elated state, the slightly manic state, the visit from Manic Bear passes. Then, when I'm in more of a 'normal' state (and I have little idea what "normal" is, but it's something I'm learning), I can see how much of what I felt and thought "sticks". As I write this I'm still feeling much of what I felt. In a few days, however, it could be gone, gone like none of it ever happened. I might experience a crash and feel slightly or heavily depressed. I have no idea to be honest.
And this is all part of what "Living with the Polar Bears" - living with bipolar affected disorder - is all about. It's about learning what mood and states are affected by the disorder. It's learning to recognize mood swings and what they mean. It's about learning to keep things in perspective.
It's about Taming the Polar Bears.